DCentric » Animals http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Pit Bulls: From America’s Dog to Public Enemy #1 http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/pit-bulls-from-americas-dog-to-public-enemy/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/pit-bulls-from-americas-dog-to-public-enemy/#comments Fri, 04 Feb 2011 21:44:31 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=4007 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: Nickel3rd

A Pit bull puppy.

Do a news search for “pit bulls” and you’ll notice certain themes: neglect, dog bites, as well as proposals to ban them. No type of dog arouses more emotion than those identified– and misidentified– as Pits bulls. Yet a century ago, these dogs were so admired for their loyalty and bravery that they were considered “America’s Dog” and used on posters during World War I to sell war bonds and recruit for the U.S. military. Before that, Pit bulls were prized for their gentle disposition and willingness to watch over children whose parents were busy at work, in the fields. So how did a dog which was once respected become so feared?

President and CEO of the Washington Humane Society Lisa LaFontaine says, “If you take a historical look at the breeds involved in dog attacks, the dogs that had been trained by certain elements of society to be aggressive were the pariah breeds of their era.”

LaFontaine explains that during the era of slavery, “Attacks by Bloodhounds were common because Bloodhounds were used to track runaway slaves. They were used to doing something violent. Fast forward to the 1880s and New York City, where Newfoundlands were being used to guard markets, so a preponderance of bites came from Newfoundlands. After World War II, Dobermans were associated with Nazis and were seen as dangerous.

“It was really when gangs adopted Pit bulls that they became the latest pariah…these happy, healthy, well-adjusted dogs became a symbol of drug culture and violence because unfortunately, you can take all of a Pit’s positive traits and turn them negative.”

Some may ask, what positive traits does a Pit bull have? Once again, history provides answers– and some surprising examples of great, if not heroic dogs. The only dog ever to be promoted to the rank of “Sergeant” started out as a brindle puppy with an abbreviated tail, a trait which inspired his name, “Stubby”.

Stubby, who learned to salute other soldiers by touching his right paw to his eye, served as the mascot of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. When his Division was ordered to war, Stubby was smuggled to France aboard the SS Minnesota. Ironically, Stubby’s first injury ended up making him a valuable asset on the field; after being exposed to gas and becoming ill, Stubby was acutely sensitive to it– a skill which came in handy during a pre-dawn gas attack, which occurred when his Division was asleep. Stubby barked and nipped at his men, waking them and thwarting the attack.

Flickr: Beverly & Pack

Pit bulls were used on World War I-era posters to promote war bonds and recruitment.

Later, when a German spy tried to map his camp, Stubby was there. The German soldier tried to greet him, and Stubby responded to his overture by barking. The spy ran and Stubby attacked him until reinforcements arrived. Stubby’s capture of an enemy soldier resulted in his promotion to the rank of Sergeant. Later on, when his master J. Robert Conroy started law school at Georgetown University, Stubby– not the iconic bulldog we associate with the Hoyas today– was there. Some even say that Stubby may be the genesis of the half-time show, since he often delighted spectators by nudging a football around the field with his nose.

Sergeant Stubby was no pariah– but he was a Pit bull. So what changed? Lisa LaFontaine of the Washington Humane Society says we did. “The imagery around Pits had to do with drug culture and gangs, so they became known as an ‘urban dog’. There was an infamous Sports Illustrated cover…and that imagery was planted.”

In the summer of 1987, Sports Illustrated declared “BEWARE OF THIS DOG” on its cover– and underneath those words a brindle Pit bull snarled, teeth bared, to emphasize that warning. That imagery appealed to the worst elements of society, and a loyal, people-pleasing dog found itself guarding gangs, not children or Allied soldiers. The ASPCA says that Pit bulls’ “intimidating appearance” make them “attractive to people looking for a macho status symbol, and this popularity has encouraged unscrupulous breeders to produce puppies without maintaining the pit bull’s typical good nature with people.”

Detractors of the breed point to its popularity in dog fighting as proof that the animals are inherently dangerous to people, but Pit bulls were originally bred to be extra gentle to humans, so their handlers could easily separate them, during fights. According to the ASPCA, “Poor training and poor breeding are, in part, responsible for the increasing numbers of pit bulls and pit bull mixes involved in attacks against people.”

Despite the breed’s impressive history, there is a perception that dogs like Sergeant Stubby are different from the Pit bulls we see today, on the news and in our neighborhoods. While indiscriminate breeding by unscrupulous humans has adversely affected the breed, Pit bull heroics are not a thing of the past. In 2001, three Sacramento-based Search and Rescue dogs named Tahoe, Cheyenne, and Dakota worked indefatigably at Ground Zero to find survivors; that was just one of the 200 missions the trio of Pit bulls have completed. Despite negative press, threats of Breed-specific legislation and their status as outcasts, America’s dog still lives to serve.

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Dogs: Good for Irving Street and D.C. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/dogs-good-for-irving-street-and-d-c/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/dogs-good-for-irving-street-and-d-c/#comments Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:33:14 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=3923 Continue reading ]]>


My puppy on 14th Street, last spring. Note the prominent poop bags. We scoop!

First I blogged about dogs, then I pointed you towards some controversy over a Greater Greater Washington post…funnily enough, this post is about dogs and GGW. A few days ago, Lynda Laughlin wrote a post there called, “Irving Street becomes unofficial dog latrine“. In it, she asks, “how much dog urine is just too much for such a public space?”. That question hit home for me, literally.

For those of you who are familiar with this stretch of sidewalk, there is very little green space and the sidewalks are particularly crowded in the morning with commuters going to the Metro or waiting for one of the many buses.

With so little green space, dogs pee on the large planters in front of the apartment building, leaving behind noticeable puddles of dog urine. For the dogs that do make it to the tree boxes, they are not the first for the ground is already fairly saturated by 8 am…If you plan to own a dog in a city, shouldn’t you at least consider taking your dog further then just the nearest tree box?

I am going to dispute this respectfully, and then I’m going to present a different view, because lost in all the judgment of animals and their owners is one potent fact; dogs can make a neighborhood.

First, the disputing: while some dogs do mark the planters directly in front of the building (as male dogs are wont to do), the majority don’t. Most dogs make a beeline for the tree boxes Laughlin mentioned. When the weather was warmer, those boxes were rarely saturated, even at 10am. So what is the issue, then? Do people make a point of walking through tree boxes? Or is this a way to criticize dog owners, for whom there are few alternatives? As Laughlin acknowledges, there is almost no green space on this block. It’s not practical to tell my puppy to hold it until we reach whatever ideal place that people on the internet think we should use.

As for concern over dog waste (raised in GGW’s comments section), I, too, am appalled at people who are too lazy to clean up after their pets. I pick up after my dog and often, I pick up after other dogs, too. I hate that the selfishness of a few makes all of us (and especially our blameless animals) look bad. Last week’s snow only encouraged such scofflaws. There was a noticeable increase in abandoned dog waste and I was just as disgusted by it as anyone else.

But much like how the vast majority of bike riders are not guilty of the sins of those who blow through red lights, responsible dog owners in D.C. shouldn’t be besmirched with the filth of a few. It’s not fair, and the focus on pet urine and feces leaves little room for considering why it’s great to have dogs in this city.

I hated Columbia Heights when I moved here fourteen months ago. Compared to my old neighborhood, everyone here was rude, entitled and anti-social. I was used to greeting my neighbors and chatting with them whenever I saw them, whether on the sidewalk or in a store. Here, no one returned my greetings and I rarely heard an “excuse me” if someone knocked me out of the way. All of that changed dramatically when I got my puppy.

Suddenly, people were friendly. They wanted to know all about her. They smiled as she wagged her tail so hard, her entire body wiggled. They asked if they could pet her. They told me how much she reminded them of the dogs they had grown up with. In a city where most of us don’t talk to each other, especially if we don’t have race or social class in common, people of all hues and bank account balances were chatting with me, offering me advice and forging connections.

Because my puppy uses the tree in front of Commonwealth, by the end of spring, the gastropub’s regulars who sat outside started to recognize her. By the end of summer, they’d call out her name, like she was Norm, walking in to Cheers. People would get up from their meals to talk to me about her, and they’d shoo away my embarrassment at distracting them from their food and friends. That was kind enough, but the most stunning change occurred right around the Metro, where gangs of defiant teenagers often gathered to skate, eat or shove each other playfully.

The first time I walked my puppy, these teens rushed towards me, asking me for her name, breed and age. They bent down and cooed at her while scratching behind her ears. I was shocked. A week before that, while leaving Potbelly, the same kids had screamed epithets at me and told me to do vile things to myself because I had quietly asked them to stop harassing an elderly woman who was trying to make her way to the Metro elevator. My blood had boiled then, now it drained from my face as I recognized the teen who had been the most volatile. I had nothing to worry about, though. He petted my dog, looked up at me and smiled, and then walked away with his friends, talking about his childhood pet.

Are tree boxes the ideal spot for my puppy to eliminate in? No, they aren’t. But they’re all I have, and while some people think I should not have a dog in this city, because it affects the quality of their lives, I humbly feel grateful for how this pet has improved the quality of mine. My dog stitched me in to the social fabric of my neighborhood. She isn’t a nuisance, she’s an icebreaker. And I can’t help but feel that if more of us smiled at and talked to each other, this city would be a much better place. Dogs help us focus on what we have in common; it would be a shame if that gift were forgotten, in the rush to judgment.

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DCentric Conversation: Lisa LaFontaine on Pit bulls and More http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/dcentric-conversation-lisa-lafontaine-on-pit-bulls-and-more/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/dcentric-conversation-lisa-lafontaine-on-pit-bulls-and-more/#comments Wed, 02 Feb 2011 15:01:50 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=3899 Continue reading ]]>

Washington Humane Society

Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO of the Washington Humane Society with her dog, Lila.

On Monday, I published the first part of a conversation I had with Lisa LaFontaine, the President and CEO of the Washington Humane Society (WHS). That post explored dog fighting in D.C., the high-profile theft of a puppy named Ivan and WHS’ efforts to educate the city about animal cruelty.

Today’s installment answers some of the questions I posed last week– my conversation with Lisa covered everything from breed confusion to whether there’s a “class” element to Pit bull ownership. We even discussed the history of pariah breeds in this country; a century ago, the “violent dog” du jour was not a Pit or even a terrier. After listening to Lisa and doing research for this piece, I’ll never look at Newfoundlands the same way, again.

All of that and more, after the jump.

My puppy is a Cocker Spaniel mix and people constantly ask if she’s a Pit, which makes me wonder– are Pit/Bull/Terrier/mixes the victims of breed confusion?

Absolutely. And the worst kind of breed confusion leads to breed discrimination. In the three years that I’ve been at the Washington Humane Society, there have been a handful of very serious dog attacks against a person that hit the media. There are four particular cases I can think of where the dog was described in the media as a “Pit bull”, but we had the dog quarantined and it was not a Pit…it was a Boxer or a Mastiff or something else. Unfortunately, when the media picks these stories up, it causes discrimination and fear to spiral. There are dangerous dogs of all breeds. Labs. Springer Spaniels. Golden Retrievers. German Shepherds…you name it. Aggression isn’t isolated to one breed, and that’s why we do temperament tests on every pet, regardless of what they are, because we know we need to look at each dog individually.

I once saw a website which asked people to find the Pit bull in a group of 20 or so purebred dogs…it’s very, very hard to do.

We have several versions of that poster hanging up around our offices to make that point. There is nothing that underscores it more effectively than those pictures. You can give that test to laymen or seasoned professionals and it is hard to pick out the Pit bull. That’s why we use the phrase, “Pit bull-type…”.

I read that Pit bulls were once considered “America’s dog“. How did they become a symbol for crime or violence and associated with certain demographics?

That’s a great question. I want to direct you to a fantastic book, The Pit Bull Placebo, its tag line is “Media, Myths and the Politics of Canine Aggression”. It was written by Karen Delise, who is with a group that tracks dog bites. If you take a historical look at the breeds involved in dog attacks, it is the dogs that had been trained by certain elements of society to be aggressive– those were the pariah breeds of their era.

Go back to slavery and”Uncle Tom’s Cabin”…attacks by Bloodhounds were common because Bloodhounds were used to track runaway slaves. They were used to doing something violent. Fast forward to the 1880s and New York City, where Newfoundlands were being used to guard markets, so a preponderance of bites came from Newfoundlands. After World War 2, Dobermans were associated with Nazis and were seen as dangerous.

It was really when gangs adopted Pit bulls that they became the latest pariah. In the past, Pit bulls had starred in ads, on the TV show “Little Rascals”…in fact, the most decorated dog in World War 2 was a Pit. These happy, healthy, well-adjusted dogs became a symbol of drug culture and violence because unfortunately, you can take all of a Pit’s positive traits and turn them negative.

Part of their willingness to fight is because they want approval, right?

Yes, they will do anything to please their owners. And yet, again, if you turn the clock back 100 or so years, people would have been afraid of Newfoundlands, not Pits. I’m not a Pollyanna. Some dogs are aggressive dogs. But they cut across breeds. It’s a combination of indiscriminate breeding as well as how a dog was raised.

Does the stigma affect your efforts to find dogs forever homes, and if so, how do you work around that?

It definitely gives us more to think about and more to work on. Our strategy is to assess every animal that comes to our shelter, whether they are dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs…because the most important thing for us is that the next home they go to be their last home and a loving fit for them. We pay attention to each dog’s characteristics, why they got surrendered and we assess what they will need in a home environment. We also consider the people who are coming in, what are they looking for? Matchmaking is a huge part of our efforts. We welcome every potential adopter to have conversations like the one I’m having with you today, to get people to see things a little differently, to see animals differently. Fortunately, we have lots of wonderful, beautiful Pit bull-type dogs who have been adopted by our patrons, who speak for us and proudly wear their status as our ambassadors.

It’s easy for us to advocate for them because many of us have them. Several of our staffers have one or two of these dogs because they’ve fallen in love with them. There are poor representatives of every breed, and we are trying our best to make sure dogs are safe. For those of us who are privileged to spend time with a nice Pit, there’s nothing like it.

Are we more likely to see Pits with certain people or in certain parts of D.C.?

The imagery around Pits had to do with drug culture and gangs, so they became known as an “urban dog”. There was an infamous Sports Illustrated cover…and that imagery was planted. Yet if you walk through Washington, a multicultural city, you see these dogs with every age, race, class and neighborhood. I’ve thought about this and it’s striking…certainly race discrimination is based on what people look like and discrimination against pits comes from that, too.

The truth is, these dogs are woven throughout this community. The first time that really struck me was when I came to the Washington Humane Society. The very first event I went to was our Walk for Animals. It’s a fantastic event, which is usually attended by people who adopted from our shelter. Those people came from every race, level of education and part of this city. I got on stage, looked out and I saw Pit bulls everywhere. It was a powerful image. There were 700 people on the mall, at a grassroots event. Every demographic you could imagine…and no one group had a lock on Pit bulls. They were with everybody.

At the Washington Humane Society, dogs that look like them are in our shelters very frequently and it’s because of a number of things. They are sterilized less frequently and over time, that is what the “D.C. dog” has come to look like, because that is the dog getting bred frequently. Over time, that will change. There will be another dog that has the “D.C. dog look”.

So there are Pits everywhere, from Georgetown to Congress Heights?

Yes, there are “Pitbull-type” dogs in Georgetown and everywhere else. If you look, you’re going to see them, just like I saw them at our Walk for Animals. A lot of these stereotypes about the kind of person who owns these dogs are  propagated by people who are invested in a certain belief, who are not paying attention to the world around them.

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DCentric Conversation: Lisa LaFontaine of the Washington Humane Society http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/01/dcentric-conversation-lisa-lafontaine-of-the-washington-humane-society/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/01/dcentric-conversation-lisa-lafontaine-of-the-washington-humane-society/#comments Mon, 31 Jan 2011 21:47:54 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=3816 Continue reading ]]>

Washington Humane Society

WHS President Lisa LaFontaine and her lovely dog, Lila.

On Friday, I mentioned that I had interviewed Lisa LaFontaine, the President and CEO of the Washington Humane Society (WHS). We discussed several topics, most notably the stigmatization of Pit Bulls, which is a compelling and divisive issue. If I were a gambler, I’d wager that the reason why my “teaser” of a post was shared 20 times on Facebook (not typical for DCentric, no matter how many eyelashes or shooting stars I wish on) has more to do with America’s scariest dog than humane education or your kind support of my dream job writing for WAMU.

Lisa was so generous, she spent twice the allotted time speaking with me and for that I am grateful. Because we covered so much information, I’m splitting the interview in to two posts; part two will be up Wednesday morning.

Some of you may be wondering, what do dogs have to do with race and class; interestingly enough, this weekend and earlier today, whenever I was speaking with people involved with animals, their immediate response was, “Everything”. A colleague added, “Unfortunately, the stereotype is that the only people who own Pit Bulls are either white rednecks or Black drug dealers.” After speaking to Lisa LaFontaine, I know that such assumptions are inaccurate– and dangerous for a breed which was once affectionately referred to as a “Nanny dog”.

Does WHS do any outreach to communities in D.C. about humane practices?

We do. We have a variety of people in the organization who specialize in that, including a full-time humane educator who goes to schools and works with community groups about humane care, training and noticing cruelty. We focus on young people and because we only have one educator, we track where cruelty or neglect calls are coming from and we send her to those neighborhoods. It’s amazing what happens when you start talking to kids about animals. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received phone calls from a young person who says, “Mrs. Brown told me to call if I saw this.”, so we know our humane education touched that child. By bringing animals in the classroom, they learn how to treat animals. We also have two groups of officers out, all the time. They are invited to ANC meetings, community meetings and they go to dog parks, so we have a lot of programs for reaching out to the community.

That’s amazing that children are empowered to help animals. You mentioned other community programs…do any of them focus on dog fighting?

We’re very much on the front lines on the dog fighting issue. We have humane law enforcement officers who respond to every call. If people see something that doesn’t look right–like a dog with wounds–they get the phone call, whether it is organized or a casual fight in the street. Our officers have been very present, not only in talking about the issue but apprehending people involved in dog fights. We worked on a bill in 2007, it passed in 2008…it makes it illegal to be a spectator. In D.C. it’s a felony to be a spectator. And dog fights thrive on spectators. For fighting to flourish, it needs to be a spectator sport, so if you target people who own and watch you are addressing the whole, dysfunctional system.

I had no idea that it’s a felony to watch a fight, but it makes sense, now that you mention it.

When people know they will get arrested for it, it’s a whole other level of deterrence. We actually see more casual street fights, the “My dog is tougher than yours.”-situations. If there’s a dog fight happening, we act. We have the authority to take a dog out of that situation. it’s difficult though; illegal dog fighting is secretive, and that’s why we need people’s help in reporting that crime.

Hence the educational efforts, sure. Now how often do you get dog fighting calls? Do they come from certain areas?

The Washington Humane Society has had the power of law enforcement since 1870, so we’ve been dealing with all manifestations of cruelty for a long time. Dog fighting was much more of an issue in the 80s or 90s. The majority of calls we get now are for cruelty, neglect, leaving dogs out in bad weather or animals being abandoned. While dog fights still happen, they are not, by any means the majority of our calls anymore. There’s still a lot of animals left out on days like this, who are chained, without enough food, who are abandoned or running at large…those are issues we see, that we are working actively on.

When little Ivan, the pit bull, was puppy-napped, people feared the worst about his fate and made assumptions about motive based on the surveillance photos. Have Washington Humane society policies been changed in light of that incident? And were the public’s fears grounded in reality?

We were afraid because stealing a dog is a crime and dog fighting tends to go with other crimes, but it was more because if you want to adopt a dog and you have integrity around that, then it’s easy enough to do it right. The fact that they would steal him in broad daylight…we were worried about it for that reason. People’s hearts were really in their throats. It was sharing the video on Facebook and every media outlet in D.C. that allowed us to get him back the next day. So many people saw it and felt that panic. Everybody knew that these guys were taking him, stealing him…you can’t ascribe any good motive to that.

As for our policies, we have secured additional cameras. We talked long and hard about this; we want to protect our animals and be safe but we also want to assume that most people are coming to us with good intentions. We don’t want to be a bunker…we need to make sure our facility is secure, and that’s why more surveillance in place, but in terms of how we treat the public? We want people to feel welcome. I think 99 out of 100 people who come to us do so because they want to do the right thing.

Are certain breeds overrepresented at WHS or D.C. shelters, in general? When I adopted my puppy, most of the dogs at Georgia Ave were either Pits or mixes.

Right now, “pit bull-type” dogs are the most commonly represented dogs in our shelters, but it’s misleading. We tend to identify dogs based on what they look like. This summer, I had a litter of foster puppies; the mother was a pit-type dog, she had all the classic physical characteristics of one…but her puppies all looked like little hounds or beagles. We really try and look at appearance and behavior when identifying breeds, so we say “pit bull”-type dogs because they’re usually mixed. Dogs that have those physical characteristics are commonly seen in our shelters, but they are seen in many urban areas across the country. I was in Baltimore the other day, they see a preponderance, too. In Worcester, MA…all across the country…these types of dogs are the ones that are being bred indiscriminately.

Coming up on Wednesday– more about “Pit Bull”-type dogs, from breed confusion to a little history about America’s ever-evolving pariah dog breeds.
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Next Week: Lisa LaFontaine of the WHS on Dogs, D.C. and More http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/01/next-week-lisa-lafontaine-of-the-whs-on-dogs-d-c-and-more/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/01/next-week-lisa-lafontaine-of-the-whs-on-dogs-d-c-and-more/#comments Fri, 28 Jan 2011 20:09:33 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=3777 Continue reading ]]>

Washington Humane Society

I just got off the phone with Lisa LaFontaine, the President & CEO of the Washington Humane Society.

We had an edifying discussion about “Pit Bulls” (though that’s not how the WHS refers to them) and the humane education programming the group does in D.C.; we also explored how a breed once known as “America’s Dog”, which enjoyed starring roles on classic television programs like the Li’l Rascals is now a pariah.

Interestingly enough, LaFontaine mentioned that frontier icon Laura Ingalls had a dog named Jack, who may have been a Bull Terrier– and when I looked for links, I found several which corroborated this bit of history– as well as a few which hotly disputed it, and termed it “pit bull propaganda”. That 15 minutes of web-surfing reinforced how much of an issue this controversial breed can be for some, but why?

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about “Pit Bulls”– even though most people can’t correctly identify them, when tested. Are people of a certain race more likely to own one? Is it a class thing– are they more likely to be in Ward 8 than Ward 2? And how prevalent is dog-fighting in Washington, D.C.?

The answers might surprise you– check back on Monday, for more.

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Dog Poo and Racial Epithets, Oh My. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/01/dog-poo-and-racial-epithets-oh-my/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/01/dog-poo-and-racial-epithets-oh-my/#comments Fri, 21 Jan 2011 17:46:24 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=3575 Continue reading ]]>


More pleasant than a broom, but that's just me

Well, THIS is an interesting feature on TBD– the “Neighbor Hall of Shame“. I’m extra interested in this story for a few reasons– I think D.C.’ers need to be more neighborly, it involves “shame” and it has to do with dog poo. As the proud caretaker of a poky little puppy, I deal with such foulness at least twice a day…but at least I dispose of it properly, unlike this Hill East resident:

Handley accuses a neighbor in the 1700 block of Massachusetts Ave. SE, directly across the rear alley from him, of regularly sweeping his dog’s feces out of his back yard and into the alley. “This is his standard practice and has been going on for years,” Handley says. “What he tends to do is sweep it out there, and then maybe later he’ll take a hose and flush it down the alley.” The situation gets even worse in the summer months, Handley says, when “you really smell it.”

It’s a mind-boggling neighborhood issue on number of levels. So many questions come to mind. Is it really more work to pick up the poop and dispose of it properly than it is to grab a broom and start sweeping? Does this guy use that broom inside his house?

For Handley, it’s almost like this neighbor is sweeping out his poo just to be “nasty.” And he’s got reason not to be particularly anxious to have a conversation with the guy about it. A previous encounter, during which Handley complained to the same neighbor about leaving his dog, who barks a lot, out in the back yard all night and all day, led to some rather unpleasant exchanges. “He and his mom came out and cursed me out with a whole string of racial epithets,” he says. Another time, Handley says the guy threatened to dump water on him.

I don’t understand. It HAS to be more work to sweep, sweep, sweep feces out of a back yard than it would be to just pick up the poop the way the rest of us do. It sounds as if this is more about antagonizing neighbors than dog-waste disposal; I’ll confess that I don’t know exactly how gentrified this block is, but I can’t help but wonder about how much issues like race and class are involved.

The situation is unfortunate and unhealthy…it also makes the rest of us dog-lovers look bad, too. No wonder I get screamed at on Irving, if I take more than a few seconds to unfurl one of those impossible to open-poop bags.

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Gone Fishing. I mean, Swimming. Training, really. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/gone-fishing-i-mean-swimming-meeting-really/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/gone-fishing-i-mean-swimming-meeting-really/#comments Tue, 21 Dec 2010 18:01:23 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=2875 Continue reading ]]>

Smithsonian's National Zoo

I wish someone would help me out of the water, and by water I mean my unfinished holiday errands!

Uh-oh…you know what that means…if there’s a cute animal on DCentric, it’s meeting/conference/daydreamin’-time. I will be at a class for the rest of today– check back this evening for the Tweet of the Day.

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Ivan has been found! http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/ivan-has-been-found/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/ivan-has-been-found/#comments Thu, 02 Dec 2010 15:13:26 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=2410 Continue reading ]]>

Washington Humane Society

Ivan the puppy.

Great news! The four-month old pit bull puppy who was stolen from the Washington Humane Society’s New York Avenue shelter has been found. Here’s more, from The Washington Times:

Scott Giacoppo, a spokesman for the humane society, confirmed for The Washington Times that they have located the 4-month-old pit bull, named Ivan.

And here’s something I didn’t see reported elsewhere:

Sources told The Times that three youths thought to be involved in the highly publicized theft of the dog were wards of the city’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. The sources, who talked The Times on condition anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the subject, said the three juveniles were at the agency’s headquarters on Wednesday.

I’m so relieved that this puppy is safe.

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Have you seen this puppy? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/have-you-seen-this-puppy/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/have-you-seen-this-puppy/#comments Wed, 01 Dec 2010 18:10:55 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=2384 Continue reading ]]>

Washington Humane Society

Ivan is a four-month old pit bull puppy; he was stolen on Monday.

Last February, I adopted a little black and white puppy who was surrendered with her litter at the Washington Humane Society’s New York Avenue shelter, so I am extra-sad about this:

Four month old Ivan was snatched from his kennel at the New York Avenue shelter early on Monday afternoon. Three suspects were caught on surveillance video taking the dog from the shelter. The individuals entered the shelter on 1201 New York Avenue, NE posing as potential adopters. Once inside the shelter the suspects took Ivan from his cage and escaped by breaking through a wooden fence behind the building.

On the news, I saw a WHS official describe the crime by saying that the suspects entered a restricted area and then kicked down a wooden fence to exit with the puppy.  As commenters on other news sites and blogs have pointed out, the dog-nappers look young, and it’s possible that a local teacher or school employee might recognize them. I hope that’s exactly what happens and that the story is picked up by other outlets, so more people can see the suspects.

This is a picture of them:

Washington Humane Society

These three entered a restricted area at the Washington Humane Society's New York Avenue shelter and took a four-month old puppy.


“This is a heartbreaking situation. Every animal in our care is a member of the WHS family. Ivan was waiting to go to a good home, instead he was kidnapped and now we have no idea what the perpetrators intend to do with him and, most importantly, whether he is getting the care and love he needs. His safety is our number one priority and we hope with the public’s help, Ivan will be returned to us quickly, said WHS President & CEO, Lisa LaFontaine.”

WHS officials are asking anyone with information about Ivan to contact the Washington Humane Society/DC Animal Care and Control at 202-724-3834. Calls are confidential and a reward is being offered for information leading to safe return of Ivan.

There is a $1,000 reward for Ivan’s safe return, no questions asked. I hope that this was simply a case of three kids wanting a puppy and not having enough money for the $170 adoption fee doing something stupid; the other alternatives are too appalling to imagine.

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